Rocks for UPENDED proved to be a challenge. The colors I chose were based on the flowers and vegetation about the mountain terrain. The mauves, reds and yellows were impossible for me to wrap my head around. I made over 20 rocks for a total of 9 spaces. On the 24th I was driven up to install. The red ones were wild and untamed and intimidated me. They were finally replaced by genteler but still dynamic rocks. I was thrilled by the final composition, but the installation was not without a lot of agony.
It has been WILD around here. We laid the lovely stork down on her back to put a steel back bone for her to be carried and secured to the base.
I returned to the mountain and secured my footers.
We visited the studio of a local artist. JeanClaude has a small but efficient studio. Check out that roof!? They use flat stones as shingles, attached with a clever hook system. According to our buddy Matt, they never leak and last as long as stones… I just want to see the raftering it takes to hold it all up with an added 5 feet of snow!
We had a stunning day at Art Basel, one of the worlds hottest gallery exhibits. This year they burnt all the records for sales on day ONE! We got VIP passes to be there. Basel was such a delight. Driving down the twisty road from our high alps paradise, through deep valleys peppered with castles, then on to the low flat lands of lakes and cheese on our three hour ride to the German speaking end of Switzerland - we got a renewed perspective of where we are — MAKING ART IN THE ALPS!!!
I spent a day making a hap hazard scaffold up on the mountain so I was FINALLY staged to cement… then waited for a day of reliable weather, a cement mixer, a truck to haul my materials and finally made the move…
I still have several days getting a finish coat and color on… but now I move on to FINALLY securing my last bit of steel and making rocks for my second piece.
Dona has been working TOO HARD> She has done two 2am nights in a row and still insists on getting up at 6. Last night i refused to stay up with her and woke up in a fright when she never returned. I strolled over in my PJs and recovered her. The work is huge and lovely. She will be forever proud and I am confident the helicopers will film her piece as a local landmark.
Speaking of helicopters, we work with two of the finest world class “off piste” (off groomed trails…) snow boarders. Matt and Jerome have been filmed and also film some of the areas most spectactular glacier drops on snow boards. Matt is a huge help - he knows everyone who lives here and can solve almost any problem. He speaks good english and it is so interesting to hear him go from steady calm English to the emphatic and expressive French. Same conversation - but French has a completly different approach use of intonation. It is built into the language.
Jerome speaks good but limited English. Working bilingually we smile and share a lot — and often miss a lot… but both these guys work like real heros.
This morning was SO cold, but Donna was scheduled to run up the mountain to check out her site for soil conditions, (the architect/engineers had concerns about securing her work…) so I jumped into the van with 8 bags of concrete to finish up my foundation. My piece was covered in ice when I arrived, and even though I worked until 11:00, it was still iced over when I left.
The pick was needed to secure the piece on the mountainside until the cement cured. This is SUCH an extreme place to work!
When I was done with all I had to do, I walked back to the lift, but it only runs limited hours. I was between trips, so I just hoofed it down off the mountain, cutting straight down steep slopes rather than take all the switchbacks. It was a cold, exhausting morning.
After lunch we laid Donna’s STORK down on its back and worked out a system for giving it a proper backbone! See tomorrow’s video..
We had great materials success FINALLY… we hope. We found a local product that seems like the ticket! Donna made a sample, and I used her leftovers to cover some of my rocks. It seems to respond similarly to our US product. We are very happy!
But the truck drivers and engineers looked at Donna’s HUGE foam and scratched their heads a lot. It is looking like they want a hole down through the center… YIKES! This would have been easier as she built it, but I am optimistic that we can lay the huge sculpture down and drill through it for a helecopter hook. We fashioned a pipe into a drill and had adequate success:
We had a lot of fun shopping! The carts here are made for narrow aisles! They have FOUR swiveling wheels. It is wierd at first, but once you get the idea, WHAT dexterity.
Today started at 6:50. I set out all my needs for the move up the mountain. The truck arrive promptly at 7am. Lovely and crisp morning. a stunning drive back up the s curves to the site.
The loading and off loading were most professionally handeled.
I was again thoroughy thrilled with the site I had decided on. It has a long vista as one approaches, and a spectacular outline against the glaciated mountains beyond.
I had Jerome, one of the French fluent assistants, to help me and he was a great worker. We beat ourselves up diggeing in the tough soil. deep slots followed the contour of the piece.
Then we mixed cement to secure the piece as rain slipped over us. We caught the 12:30 lift down off the mountain and arrived to hot plates opf food saved for us. I still have several hard days getting the piece covered with cement and then stained. The site is steep and so I will need to spend a day building a scaffold so I can reach the higher places. I will catch a ride up the mountain on the lift and return similarly. The view and ride are exceptional. What a place to work!
Donna had a great day getting solutions to our materials dilema and doing the final shaping on the skirt ruffels, feet and lower areas. Now she will work her way up the shape cleaning up details as she awaits the new material.
Sunday June 5th was a bit flat. We got to the tent early as usual (we generally start before 8, most others arrive by lunch...) We had a lovely dinner party at Maddy's the night before, and the key was not in place... Perhaps the mood made others a bit forgetful. Donna had work, but I mostly putzed about. After lunch the key showed and I got some work done. We had a hard pour midmorning, clouds the rest of the day, but both of us got work done.
Monday JUNE 6 was a serious work day. Donna cut out her monument's lovely feet and just as the day closed... popped out the sawzall and trimmed in the ruffel for the dress! So close -- so cool.
I played with my steel curlyques and the welder.
I built a base for it that will go into the ground to secure it in place:
The cement guys brought us the wrong materials completely. Even with good translation, it was frustrating. I finally went down to the factory to chat about acrylic additives and glass fiber with my laptop in hand. I don't know how it works, but when I google it comes back in English, but when they google on their computer it comes back in French!
Finally, one of our local helpers brought me to a stunning mountain ravine to gather saplings for our burning sculpture. The tree selection is less than premium. I got a small collection -- less than half I need, but I might have to make due...
We continue to eat like hogs. The food is basically home prepared for kings and served at a small pub directly across form our work tent. It is HARD not to eat too much.
On thing that continues to give us a chuckle is the "size" decision one is faced with daily when flushing:
We had a great day today. Donna knawed on her piece with persistence, getting the left side to match all she did yesterday. I cranked on the wire tying and discovered I was hugely along. By midday I was DONE! Now I need to arrange for a truck to drive the steel armature up the mountain so I can set it in place, dug a footer and cement it in place. Then I will spend two long days mixing cement and covering the structure with a thin layer making a strong but some what flexible piece.
Freed up for the afternoon I began a new idea...
A little rain fell in the afternoon, but it stopped in time for a world class hike! We went further up the mountain and saw a world we both are falling in love with.
The snow lingered today! But we had a good day of work in the tent. I am doing the chicken wire and it is tedious and meticulous work. Every layer needs to be securely tied to the steel structure so as to keep the overall thickness as minimal as possible. I expect to move up to the mountain next week and then secure the piece and cement it in place. It will be a great experience to be up above tree line for many days of hard work!
Donna keeps up the careful shaping that makes her piece a daily joy to observe.